Activities: Walking, hiking, nature, gardens, trails, sculptures, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, workshops. Dog-friendly to leashed dogs. Family-friendly.
Region: The Kennebec Valley
With 224 acres encompassing six miles of trails, several botanical collections and local art, Viles Arboretum is a year-round destination for exploration, reflection, education and just plain fun. Discover the history, ecology and beauty of this magical place, located in Augusta off the Kennebec River.
Whether you want to walk, bike, cross-country ski or study the environment around you, Viles Arboretum trails allow for all of it. Winding through 150 acres of fields and 74 acres of forest, the trails are a mix of forest floor, crushed stone, rock and boardwalks. When you’re ready to take a respite, tables and benches can be found throughout the grounds for a picnic or opportunity to bird-watch.
Walk the 0.9-mile Inner Trail Loop to admire the hosta garden, best seen blooming from late May through the summer months. You may also spot remnants of the arboretum’s history on this trail: A 19th-century well, the remains of a granite rock quarry and the foundation of an old “piggery” give you a glimpse back in time. Relax on the marble bench at the edge of Viles Pond and listen to the wetland habitat harmonies. Continue on to reach the rhododendron grove that flowers in May and June.
The 1.6-mile Outer Loop Trail winds through forest and open wetland (boardwalks will keep you out of the mud), showcasing an amazing collection of trees. The observatory deck is perfect for bird-watchers and those looking for a tranquil moment of reflection. Springtime brings the cheerful trill of peepers and scent of lilacs, while fall showcases apple trees grafted from what are known to be the first apple trees of Eastern Europe.
Along the trails, keep an eye out for the stone sculptures that seemingly emerge naturally from the landscape. Created by Maine artists, many of the sculptures can be purchased to take home with you.
Enrich your family’s experience at Viles Arboretum with a variety of classes, events and guided tours. From glorious fall foliage excursions to courses about managing the troublesome browntail moth to creative winter wreath-making workshops, you’ll be inspired by what you learn, create and witness.
Kids will enjoy arboretum activities geared toward them — from The Children’s Discovery Room, where indoor play will spark their love of the outdoors, to youth field trip programs led by a knowledgeable and passionate staff.
After immersing yourself in the wonder of nature, welcome back the present moment at some of these delectable restaurants and breweries:
The Liberal Cup – Hallowell
With an eclectic take on tavern fare complementing the craft beer, you’ll find everything from beer-battered chicken tenders to local mussels.
Slates Restaurant and Bakery – Hallowell
Homemade pasta drizzled with pesto and shaved parmesan, smoked BBQ, tofu tacos, and a variety of cakes, cheesecakes and pies — all of it can be enjoyed at Slates. Friendly to vegetarians and brunch-lovers alike, it’s a place you won’t want to miss.
Cushnoc Brewing – Augusta
In a cozy environment where wood-fired pizza meets creative craft beer, this is a place where you’ll surely warm up, inside and out.
Insider Tip: Do you like the idea of combining art with craft brews? Check out our Art & Ales trip ideas.
From Bangor: 76 miles
From Ellsworth: 82 miles
From Portland: 54 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 33 miles